Archive for July, 2008

CHEF’S TIP: Removing ramekins from a bain marie

It’s a pesky business removing a perfectly cooked custard or crème brûlée from a scorching hot water bath. You use a towel and it ends up getting soaked. You use the tips of your fingers and they get scolded. You use a pair of tongs and they slip from your reach, spraying you and your brûlées with water. Like I said, it’s a pesky business.

Only, according to much praised pastry chef David Guas– it need not be so. Wrap each end of your tongs with thick rubber bands to create a non-slippery surface and remove your ramekins with ease. Now, isn’t that just sweet? Oh, to have a clever chef in every kitchen.

David currently owns Damgoodsweet Consulting Group LLC and is set to open Bayou Bakery, in McLean, Virginia by the end of the year.

A RECIPE: Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (with avocado)

A while back I was given a recipe for avocado oatmeal cookies and my boss and I looked at each other, raised our eyebrows and similtaneously said: bleh. Without even giving the recipe a chance on its own we omitted all the spices and wacked in some coconut, good quality chocolate chips and hallelua we had avocado and oat cookies. Only what blew us away was that they were truly magnificent. Perhaps some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten- no joke. And I wasn’t the only one saying it,

So, what’s the deal with the avocado? Well, the whole point is to use the avocado as a partial replacement for butter, which means that you’re getting a little more healthy fat and a little less lardy fat. I’m pretty sure that this still doesn’t classify them as healthy or part of your five-a-day and I’m sure that some of you are thinking ‘what’s the point- if you’re going to eat a cookie, eat a cookie’. But- I live my life along the lines of ‘it’s the little things that count’ and a little more avocado and a little less be butter without altering the flavour is certainly not going to hurt you. In fact I think it’s a wonderful thing. It’s like buying a dress in a sample sale- it’s still a great dress but you feel especially smug knowing that you snagged it for half price. Need another reason to try them? How’s this-there is something extraordinarily satisfying about giving a begging pair of hands a cookie, walking away and then turning back over your shoulder to say: “oh, by the way- it has avocado in it….mwahaaha!”

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (with avocado)’

CHEF’S TIP: Corn off the cob

Marc Murphy

According to New York City chef, Marc Murphy a Bundt tin is not just for cakes. So if you’re someone who has avoided buying one because you think it’s a gimmick- you can think again. No longer will you find sweetcorn kernels on the floor a week after you sliced them off the cob.

Place the tip of the sweetcorn in the hole in your Bundt tin and holding onto the stem slice away the kernels, which will fall neatly into one contained place. What could make me happier? A similar invention for grating carrots.

landmarc [at the time warner center]
10 columbus circle [3rd floor]
new york city 10019
p. 212.823.6123
f. 212.823.6122

landmarc [tribeca]
179 west broadway [between leonard & worth]
new york city 10013
p. 212.343.3883
f. 212.343.3890

ditch plains
29 bedford street [at downing]
new york city 10014
p. 212.633.0202
f. 212.633.0255

A RECIPE: Strawberry summer salad

I was on the phone to my good old friend Courtney the other day when she suddenly asked me:

“Got any good salad recipes going?”

And it struck me at that instant that although I eat a salad of some description at least once a day I rarely post about them. I LOVE salads- why the heck wasn’t I writing about them? Perhaps because they are my go-to meal of choice and I inevitably throw them together, using up the contents of my fridge. There are of course the old favourite add-ins- crispy chorizo, roasted butternut squash, crumbled feta cheese, grilled halloumi….but really there is no one combination that I seek to recreate. I just love the concept of throwing things together- a little of this, a handful of this, a really big handful of that, ooh that would be good too and viola! Dinner is ready- a meal in a bowl, what could be better?

Getting out the scales and the measuring cups is just not something I think to do when I make a salad. Even the dressings tend to be thrown together or sometimes I just drizzle the individual dressing elements over my plate. However, (because there is obviously a recipe for a salad about to come) there was this occasion, oh, only last week when I was rummaging through the contents of my newly cleaned fridge wondering what salad I could throw together that would be sophisticated enough to present to company. I had recently visited the smitten kitchen who had opened my eyes up to the novel idea of raw courgette and then there were those beautiful glistening strawberries perched close by, which I had just seen Jamie Oliver throwing in a salad (so it couldn’t be wrong). Well, that was it. I had my soft and crisp elements- now all I needed was, a bit of crunch (walnuts), a little chew (edamame), a creamy touch (blue cheese) and some peppery greens (rocket). Viola! A salad easy enough to throw together and sophisticated enough for company. Now, wasn’t that easy?

Got any salad favourites? Send them my way!

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Strawberry summer salad’

QUICK FIXES: Five cooling drink ideas

When I’m standing on the sweaty platform of the New York subway all I can think about is the cooling drink that awaits me at home. Here are five quick ideas to help you survive the rest of the summer, when water just isn’t enough.

All drinks serve 4

Sparkling Grapefruit

Divide 750ml of grapefruit juice between glasses filled with ice. Top with sparkling water and and a few mint leaves.

Refreshing elderflower & ginger

Dilute 200ml of elderflower cordial in 750ml sparkling water. Stir in a few slices of peeled fresh ginger, a few wedges of lime and a handful of mint. Gently stir and pour over ice filled glasses.

Just right mojito

Make a quick sugar syrup by melting together 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup water on the stove. Bring up to the boil turn off the heat and stir in a handful of mint stems. Allow to cool. Put a shot of rum, 3 tbsp of cooled mint syrup, 3 tbsp lime juice into each each of your ice filled glasses. Top with fresh mint leaves and soda water, stir and serve.

Sinful iced coffee

Brew 1 litre of your favourite coffee and allow to cool. Stir in 8 tbsp of condensed milk and pour over ice filled glasses.

Cranberry Sangria

Stir together 500ml cranberry juice with 500ml red wine (or just 1 litre cranberry) with the juice of 1 lemon and sparkling water to taste. Serve over ice filled glasses with slices of peach, orange and lemon.

CHEF’S TIP: For better cheeseburgers

Richard Blais

This weeks chef’s tip comes from none other than this years runner-up on Top Chef season 4. Currently developing a modern burger restaurant in Atlanta called ‘Flip’; which will feature liquid nitrogen milkshakes it seemed appropriate that Richard offered us his little tip for making a better cheeseburger.

Richard’s tip is to put a small bowl over your cooking burger once it has been flipped and topped with the cheese. This allows it to steam as the cheese melts and helps to meld together the flavours and keep all the juices in tacked. Nothing beats a juicy burger, so I’m willing to give this one a try.

This week, Richard has teamed up with Garrett popcorn in midtown Manhattan, where you can see him making his frozen popcornsicles with liquid nitrogen. Just watch out for the scary guy next to Richard above.

111 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta

A RECIPE: Museli without raisins

After years of watching my mother pick through her Alpen to remove each and every iniquitous raisin, I decided that it was high time for me to introduce her to a revolutionary concept. Homemade museli- sans raisins. I do this out of love and with a hope that I won’t have to see a little mound of raisins on the kitchen table anymore. I grew out of picking onion out of everything- it’s high time she learned how to deal with raisins. Even if that does mean going to the effort of making your own museli.

To me, making your own museli just makes sense. Gone will be the days when you will open up a bag of museli to discover that it’s too sweet for your taste, too floury, too bland, too plain, too stingy on the nuts, too full of raisins! Making museli is just about the easiest thing you could possibly dream of making in the kitchen- and it will give you so much less stress in the morning. Waking up is hard enough. If making meringues were like completing brain surgery, then making museli is the equivalent of putting a Bandaid on a scraped knee. And if making porridge was too trying for you, then this, I assure you, will be a breeze- after a little ground work.

Museli always reminds me a tad of squirrels and this was certainly not far in the back of my mind as I worked on this recipe. Did I say worked? Well, I did have to get out my scales and cups for you people- so if you consider that work then, I guess it does involve a touch of work. About five minutes should suffice. It’s full of all those things that we’re told to eat but are never quite sure where to fit them into our diet- oats, flax seeds, wheat germ, almonds, seeds. You’re thinking about squirrels now too, aren’t you? If you’re not now then you certainly will be once you sit down to your first bowl. Well, either a squirrel or a cow- because there’s an awful lot of chewing that you’ll be doing. I recommend eating about 1/3 cups worth as a serving- Don opts for the 1- 1/2 cup option and then clutches what he refers to as his ‘museli belly’. Nobody needs that much fibre in one sitting.

Continue reading ‘A RECIPE: Museli without raisins’

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